By Mike Bush
ROME (KSDK) - Two weeks after Pope Benedict XVI's final day in the papacy, the College of Cardinals finally started the process Tuesday to choose the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
The 115 voting Cardinals from sequestered themselves behind locked doors in Vatican City's Sistine Chapel and voted, but they have not yet chosen Benedict's successor.
Just up the street from the Sistine Chapel is the North American College, visited by every pope but two since it opened in 1850.
The academic dean of the North American College, a seminary for men from the United States, Canada, and Australia is St. Louisan Fr. Donald Henke.
It's Fr. Henke's job to make sure all 250 seminarians are keeping up with their studies and to help them in any way he can. He was the former academic dean of Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis and a former student in Rome.
He's spent a lot of time in the shadow of the Vatican, but he admits this time is something special.
"Yes, it's incredibly exciting. As I said, I've been in Rome for nine years and this is my first conclave. It's wonderful to be here and have a very peaceful transfer of power. Ecclesiastical power in this regard. But to have that go so peacefully and to have the excitement that a new pope will engender with the church again, yeah that's great," said Fr. Henke.
The cardinals voted just once Tuesday, but the voting will continue up to four times a day until someone receives a minimum of 77 votes.
Once that happens, the new pope will be revealed to the world, likely within an hour.